Dr. Gardner Advises Courts: Mothers Cooperate Best When Threatened

“The mother must know that any obstructionism on her part will be immediately reported to the judge, either by the therapist or though the guardian ad litem or child advocate. The court must be willing to impose sanctions such as fines or jail. The threat of loss of primary custody can also help such mothers ‘remember to cooperate.

— Dr Richard Gardner, American Fatherhood.

Dr. Richard Gardner was a psychiatrist who worked as an (paid) expert witness in family court. Dr. Gardner defended men from abuse allegations by devising”Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS). According to Gardner, women develop PAS after a divorce or break-up because they are angry that the relationship is over. To get revenge, the mother raises false allegations of abuse and tries to turn the child against the father. The “cure” for PAS is removing the mother from the child’s life or severely limiting her contact with the child.

PAS has been widely critized as it lacks scientific validity, and is “junk science” but that has not stopped its use. Courts have forced women into unnecessary psychiatric treatment, because of the suspicion of PAS. Others  forced abused women to take divorce education classes that pressure women to be “cooperative” and not talk about abuse (it is almost as if the court is trying to brainwash the abuse victim!).  Divorce educations classes do not address abuse issues, and are not appropriate when violence and threats are keeping couples from co-parenting. The suspicion of PAs has also forced women into supervised visitation centers, without any justifiable reason.  Some courts have even issued gag orders for women who speak about abuse. All of this was encouraged by Dr. Richard Gardner, whose theories have spread like poison through family courts across America, and the world.

The suspicious that the mother is an “alienator” or “malicious mom” creates a stigma that biases the Court against mothers, and almost always ensures that she will lose custody of her children, and that her contact will be severely limited. Ongoing litigation and/or monitoring by the Court is used as a means of asserting compliance, and breaking down the victim so that she sees no other choice but to just give in and do what they want.

Dr. Gardner was also controversial for his pro-pedophilia views, going so far as to say children enjoy being molested! Still, PAS has crept into the courtrooms, and the legal community–and is a big reason why so many abusive men are gaining full custody of the children they have harmed. In 2003, Dr. Gardner died a grisly death as a result of suicide. His legacy lives on, tearing families apart and allowing dangerous abusers to go free-avoiding any punishment for hurting their families, and children.

Another damaging effect of PAS, is that parental alienation really does occur–just not in the context Dr. Gardner is describing; and now the word “alienation” has become highly controversial due to Dr. Gardner promoting false information, with remedies that actually hurt families and children.  

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome? Leadership Council: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/faq.htm

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About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. "Emily Court" is a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. Emily is fighting to keep her kids safe, and bring them home. Through writing and blogging, Emily is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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